Health and Safety Guidance Document for 2022-23

FCPS Guidance on School Health Practices

Latest Updates


FCPS Achieves WELL Health-Safety Rating™

FCPS earned the WELL Health-Safety Rating for all schools and offices. In so doing, FCPS has joined a community of organizations pushing the boundaries of what health and safety look like in a post-coronavirus environment. Find out more at FCPS earns WELL Health-Safety Rating.

Consistent with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FCPS is providing the following:

Wash Your Hands Often

Face Masks (Cloth or Disposable)

  • FCPS has revised requirements for face covering in alignment with the Code of Virginia;  the Virginia Department of Health (VDH); the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI); and federal guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Student and staff mask use as outlined in FCPS Regulation 2109.
  • When the CDC COVID-19 Community Level is high, FCPS recommends that all students and staff wear a face covering when indoors (except while actively eating/drinking) on school property (to include the buildings, school buses and other school provided vehicles).
  • In alignment with the Code of Virginia, the parent/legal guardian of any child enrolled in an FCPS school, may elect for such child to not wear a face covering while on school property (to include FCPS buildings). No parent/legal guardian making such an election shall be required to provide a reason or any certification of the child's health or education status and no student shall suffer any adverse disciplinary or academic consequences as a result of this election. 
  • At-Risk / Immunocompromised students:
    • Reasonable modifications may require masking, based on federal, state, or local laws and policies, to ensure at-risk students can access in-person learning.
    • FCPS supports mask accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Contact your Procedural Support Liaison (PSL) or Due Process and Eligibility for guidance.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updates the health guidance noted below with the use of metrics for determining COVID-19 community levels:
    LOW MEDIUM HIGH
    For more information regarding Fairfax County’s current community level please visit the COVID-19 community levels webpage.
  • Staff, students, and visitors may elect to not wear a mask. 
    • No form is required to make this election.
  • Mask wearing continues to apply to the following scenarios: 
    • Federal programs (staff and students):
      • Head Start programs: this applies to PK (Pre-Kindergarten) /FECEP (Family and Early Childhood Education Program) students that are co-enrolled in Head Start classrooms. It does NOT apply to PK/FECEP classrooms that do NOT include Head Start students.
    • During off-campus activity (e.g., field trips) where masks are required by the venue (staff and students)
  • There may also be times when individual schools or subsets of schools encourage all families to have their students wear masks to protect the public health at the direction of the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD). 
  • People may choose to mask at any time.  People with symptoms or a positive test should wear a mask. Asymptomatic close contacts may consider wearing a mask indoors around others indoors until Day 10.
  • Specific guidance regarding types of PPE can be found at: PPE Strategies: Prevention of Infectious Diseases such as COVID-19

Considerations for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • CDC recommends use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when there is a potential risk of being splashed or sprayed by bodily fluids and use of standards precautions.
  • Below is a list of all supplies and materials that are available to all FCPS sites:
    • Hand sanitizer – 1-gallon pump bottles are available at the warehouse as needed.
    • Face coverings/masks – For students, staff or visitors who choose to wear a mask, a cloth or disposable mask will be made available by the school.
    • Gloves – to be used in custodial cleaning and by staff working in special capacities (i.e., special education, technology specialists, bus drivers, etc).
    • Face shields– for use by bus drivers/attendants and special education staff and any other staff upon request.
    • Gowns – for use by bus drivers/attendants and special education staff
    • Cleaning supplies – additional supplies will be provided for custodians to use during routine and enhanced cleaning.  High schools will continue to use the VMI process.  Elementary schools and middle schools can order additional supply through FOCUS.
    • Spray bottles and paper towels – to be used with Virex cleaning solution during enhanced cleaning by custodians and, possibly, staff cleaning their individual workspaces.
  • All the PPE currently available from the warehouse has been reviewed and approved by School Health and are acceptable.

Physical Distancing

  • To the extent possible (per FCHD guidance)
  • Note: Given FCPS is fully in person, the majority of FCPS schools and classrooms will be unable to physical distance as approximately 185,000 + students will be served across the division.

Cover Coughs and Sneezes

  • Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Monitor Your Health Daily

Daily Health Screening Questionnaire

  • Parents, caregivers or guardians, are strongly encouraged to monitor their children for symptoms of infectious illness every day through home-based symptom screening and students who are sick should not attend in-person instruction.
  • All staff and visitors must complete the daily health screening questionnaire prior to arriving on campus. The daily health screening questionnaire will be completed on an honor basis and will not be required to be submitted to the school.
  • A daily health screening questionnaire is available in the following languages: English, AmharicArabicChinese, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Urdu, and Vietnamese.
  • Any student, staff or visitor demonstrating symptoms of illness should stay home.  

Clean and Disinfect

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces  daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If a facility has had a sick person or someone who tested positive with COVID-19 within the last 24 hours, the space should be cleaned and disinfected. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Then, use an EPA-approved disinfectant for Coronavirus (COVID-19). Here is a list:  EPA disinfectants for coronavirus will work.
  • Follow recommended procedures for cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfection after diapering, feeding, and exposure to bodily fluids.

Ventilation

  • To optimize ventilation, FCPS uses mechanical ventilation systems to provide classrooms with outside air.  FCPS schools are designed to ventilate fresh outside air and mitigate the buildup of odors and pollutants.  Fresh air is filtered and conditioned before it enters the space. 
  • FCPS uses MERV 13 filters to provide additional filtration to classrooms and offices, but at times may supplement school ventilation systems with MERV 10 or MERV 8 due to nation-wide supply shortages. 
  • Every other window will be opened on buses (vans where possible) to provide increased ventilation.

Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Schools

Office of Facilities Management (OFM) has worked closely with FCPS custodians to ensure their cleaning processes.  FCPS custodians are using an effective disinfectant and sanitizing products to clean our facilities every day.

  • Clean high touch surfaces at least once a day or as often as determined is necessary. Examples of high-touch surfaces include pens, counters, tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, stair rails, elevator buttons, desks, keyboards, phones, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • Cafeteria tables and chairs must be cleaned and disinfected between lunch periods by custodial staff using Virex II 256.   Ensure no students or visitors are present in the room while disinfecting surfaces.  If surface cleaning with Virex II 256 must be done with students in the room, maintain a minimum of 6 feet between surfaces being disinfected and students in the room until the surface is completely dry.  For maximum effectiveness, allow surface to remain wet for 10 minutes.  However, a spray and wipe application is effective to a lesser degree when the full dwell time cannot be met.
  • Students and staff members are allowed to bring disinfecting wipes for personal use, so long as they are an EPA-approved disinfectant.  Virex II 256 will be used for all custodial cleaning and disinfecting and pre-mixed spray bottles of Virex II 256 will be available to teachers or staff members who choose to disinfect their work areas and do not bring their own disinfectant.  Teachers and staff members who do choose to clean with Virex must first complete a short safety video.  Facilities has also developed a Virex application video to help schools and offices when using the cleaning chemical.

Maintaining Water Quality at FCPS

  • The FCPS Safety Manual (VPN Required) provides security, maintenance and emergency procedures based on national and state regulations – including water systems.  
  • All FCPS facilities in use are connected to public water supplies, which are required to meet water quality standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and enforced by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).  
  • The safety of the drinking water is primarily the responsibility of the water authority that supplies the water.  Many of these water authorities have designated FCPS buildings as their distribution sampling sites.
  • The Offices of Safety and Security (OSS) and Facilities Management (OFM) work collaboratively with the water authority to provide samples at these designated sites each year, with OSS managing a lead in water testing program. 
  • Since the beginning of the global pandemic, the water authority has not provided FCPS with recommendations for increased testing or frequency of flushing water systems.  However, the Office of Facilities Management (OFM) began performing regular flushing of plumbing fixtures and systems at all schools in June of 2020, which reduces buildup of contaminants in the water lines. 
    • Work is scheduled and tracked through an automated work order system and carried out by maintenance technicians, custodians and/or operating engineers.
    • Water system flushes occur on an average of once per month, with frequencies expected to go up as students return. 
    • In addition to centrally managed flushing, school staff are encouraged to include flushing of sinks, fountains and toilets as part of their daily schedule of activities.
  • FCPS will continue to monitor and update its procedures in accordance with VDH, Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), and local health department guidance for reopening schools

Water Fountains

  • Water fountains can be used as normal and no longer need to be covered.
  • Custodians should clean high-touch surfaces (faucets and handles) at least once a day.
  • Students should be encouraged to bring their own water bottle for use during the day.  

Visitors, Mentors and Volunteers to FCPS Facilities

  • Visitors, mentors or volunteers may enter FCPS buildings provided they adhere to the following conditions:
  • All visitors to buildings must follow sign in and sign out procedures, as directed by the school, at the main office, with use of the visitor management system required.
  • All visitors/volunteers must follow all FCPS layered prevention strategies
  • Any student participating in distance learning that must visit the building for any reason will be required to complete the daily health screening questionnaire (on an honor basis) while in the building.
  • Delivery personnel are NOT required to complete a daily health screening questionnaire or sign-in if only dropping off or picking up items.  If delivery personnel have to spend an extended period of time on site, they must complete the visitor procedures. 
  • COVID-19 Vaccinations are not required for visitors/volunteers

Buses and Vans

  • When COVID-19 community levels are low or medium, masks are optional for all staff in schools and offices and on FCPS buses/ vans.
  • Every other window will be opened on buses (vans where possible) to provide increased ventilation.
  • FCPS Regulation 2109 outlines requirements for students seeking an exemption from the face covering requirement while being transported on FCPS buses/vans.

School Health Room

  • Support to students in the health room will continue to be provided by the School Health Aide or FCPS personnel (unlicensed assistive personnel) trained and oriented to support the health room.
  • Students with Individualized Health or Action Plans who require specialized care, medication administration and emergency care will be seen in the health room. Parents will be required to bring in medications needed to support their student during the school day prior to or on the first day of school.

Care Room Establishment, Requirements, and Staffing

  • The predetermined care room is a designated location and must be separate from the health room. It may be necessary for schools to identify a second care room due to the requirement for physical distancing and room capacity.
    • The Care Room is to be used only for students with COVID-like illness.
  • A designated staff member or School Health Aid (SHA) must be assigned to supervise students while in the predetermined care room should the need arise. The staff member assigned should complete the trainings on COVID-19 and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • The Personal Protective Equipment - FCPS Staff Training Video is now available in MyPDE. Users can access the video via the direct link or by searching for any of the key words in the title (examples: “personal”, “protective”, “PPE”).
  • Staff will need to be available at various times throughout the day to supervise any student exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 while awaiting pick up by the parent or guardian.

Becoming Ill While at School                                                                                                

Students sent home from the Care Room with COVID-like Illness    

  •   Students sent home from the Care Room may return to school when ALL of the following are met:
    • The student is fever-free without fever-reducing medication for at least 24 hours AND
    • The student’s symptoms have improved AND
    • One of the following:
      • Proof of a Negative COVID-19 Test
      • Healthcare Provider’s Note
        Note from a healthcare provider following a clinical evaluation stating the cause of symptoms is not COVID-19 and clearing the student to return to school.

                 OR
      • Isolation
        Isolation period for students is 5 days. The student may return on days 6-10 when the following criteria is met: 

        • Fever free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication)

        • Symptoms are improving or resolved

        • Student wears a well-fitting mask for 5 additional days (day 6 through day 10) after the end of the 5-day isolation period, in accordance with VDH guidance OR

        • For students who are unable/unwilling to mask for days 6-10, VDH recommends two negative rapid antigen tests (includes home test) performed 48 hours apart. The first test can be administered on or after day 6. If you do not have access to a rapid antigen test kit for this purpose, you may contact your school site. FCPS does not require a negative test to return.

At Home Testing Kits

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is contracting with eMed to provide schools with virtually guided rapid antigen testing using BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag At-Home Tests.

Students who are called in absent with COVID Like Illness

  • FCPS does not require return to school documentation for students who are called in absent with COVID-like symptoms/illness.
  • The student must be fever free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication to return to school.

Students who tested positive or have been diagnosed with COVID-19

  • FCPS will align with the isolation timeline recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).
  • Your child may return to in-person instruction and activities, including athletics, when your child has met the following criteria:
    • Student has completed at least five days of isolation; AND 
    • Student is fever free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication; AND
    • Student’s symptoms have improved or resolved
    • Student wears a well-fitting mask for 5 additional days (day 6 through day 10) after the end of the 5-day isolation period, in accordance with VDH guidance OR
    • For students who are unable/unwilling to mask for days 6-10, VDH recommends two negative rapid antigen tests (includes home test) performed 48 hours apart. The first test can be administered on or after day 6. If you do not have access to a rapid antigen test kit for this purpose, you may contact your school site. FCPS does not require a negative test to return.
  • If you have questions about COVID-19, contact your medical provider or find more information on Fairfax County Health Department's website and/or the UPDATED COVID-19 QUARANTINE AND ISOLATION GUIDANCE from VDH.

Notifications to School Community, Outbreak Reporting and Focused Contact Tracing

  • Based on updated guidance from the Virginia Department of Health, schools are no longer expected to conduct contact tracing on every individual case of COVID-19.
  • FCPS will monitor cases of COVID-19 in the school community and report suspected outbreaks to the FCHD. Suspected outbreak criteria:
  • Three cases which have:
  • Onset of illness (or if asymptomatic, positive specimen collection date) within 14 days of each other.
  • Epidemiologically linked (associated in person, place, and time) without another more likely source of exposure (e.g., household, or close contact to a confirmed case outside of the school setting).
  • Multiple cases comprised of:
    • Greater than 10 percent of a group/population without well-defined epi-links (e.g., in a grade, among teachers, school-wide, etc).

FCPS Notifications for Outbreaks

  • FCPS will notify families of new outbreaks, including any public health guidance or additional layered prevention strategies recommended by the Fairfax County Health Department.

Prioritization Strategy for COVID-19 Outbreaks

For school experiencing multiple outbreaks, FCPS will work with the local health department to implement public health recommendations.

  • When schools experience four outbreaks, at-home COVID-19 test kits will be distributed to affected groups. 
    • Students who have had a COVID infection in the last 6 months are not recommended to be tested.
  • When positive cases at schools reach 5 - 10% of school population (5% for HS/SS, 10% for ES/MS), a conference call will be scheduled with the school to discuss mitigation efforts.

FCPS Notifications for Positive Case

  • FCPS shares COVID-19 Health Metrics with our community and data is updated daily on the dashboard by 10am for the previous day, except weekends and holidays.
  • All self-reported cases in which the positive case was onsite during the infectious period may be viewed for the division or by the site location.

Students who have been identified as a close contact to someone with COVID-19

  • Do not need to quarantine from school, childcare, or day camp and may continue to attend programming as long as symptoms do not develop.
  • May consider wearing a mask around others indoors until day 10.
  • Are recommended to adhere to the VDH guidance for quarantine, as appropriate.
  • Should monitor for symptoms in the next 10 days, and if you develop symptoms, follow the instructions on the VDH webpage: If You Are Sick.
  • Not required to submit documentation to their school to resume in-person activities.

If parents/guardians have questions regarding quarantine they can access the Fairfax County Health Department COVID-19 webpage.

COVID-19 Testing  

  • COVID-19 Testing is available at various sites throughout Fairfax County and the state.
  • COVID-19 Testing is available at no cost for all currently enrolled FCPS students and current employees.
    • Vendor provided diagnostic testing is available.
    • Screening testing will be provided for a subset of our student population. 
  • At-Home Test Kits
    • Students leaving the school Care Room with symptoms of illness are provided a BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 at-home test kit. 
    • Students who test positive for COVID-19 who are unwilling or unable to mask through day 10, and recommended to test on day 6 or later, are provided a BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 at-home test kit
    • When four or more outbreaks are identified at a school, all students in the affected classrooms, will be provided a BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 at-home test kit. 

Indoor Dining

  • Required:
    • Tables/eating areas cleaned with sanitizing solution in between lunches 
    • Sanitizing stations located in cafeteria/eating areas - encourage student use before/after meals
  • Whenever possible:
  • Use outdoor seating areas
  • Space students apart 
  • See FCPS This Week for more information.

Guidance for Outdoor Playground Areas

  • Face masks are not required outdoors or on the outdoor playground areas; however, students who wish to wear face masks during recess should feel free to do so.

Playground Apparatus (swings, jungle gym, etc.)

  • Playground apparatus (large structural equipment, swings, jungle gym, etc.) is approved for use. 
  • Students must sanitize their hands immediately before and after using the apparatus/equipment.

Playground Equipment (balls, hula hoops, jump ropes)

  • Students should wash/sanitize hands immediately prior to and immediately after use of playground equipment.
  • Students may share equipment during recess.
  • Prior to using any piece of equipment, schools should determine if it can be effectively disinfected.  (Nonporous items such as those made of plastic or rubber are recommended.)
  • Spray or wipe down equipment during the day if possible.

FCPS’ current athletic protocols

  • FCPS highly encourages all student athletes to be vaccinated   
    • FCPS athletic teams (in-season and out-of-season) will follow current Division-wide mitigation measures and isolation and quarantine requirements as outlined elsewhere in this document.
    • Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be temporarily paused from participating in sporting activities and valuable learning time in the classroom as they are required to follow the FCPS protocols for isolation.
    • All participants must bring at least 32 ounces of water in a personal water bottle to all practices and competitions.
  • Out-of-season athletic workouts are focused on expanding opportunities for students to be physically active in a familiar environment supervised by trusted adults. The overall health and safety of our students and coaches is paramount.
  • Out-of-season workouts may be held in accordance with the established Virginia High School League (VHSL) athletic calendar under the following parameters:
  • All students participating in out-of-season workouts MUST have a complete, valid VHSL physical on file with the school.
  • Any individual with symptoms associated with COVID-19 should not participate in a workout. Please stay home.
  • All students and coaches must wear a mask in the following situations:
      • During off-campus activities where masks are required by the venue (ex: field trip)
  • All participants must bring at least 32 ounces of water in a personal water bottle to all practices and competitions.
  • In-season athletic activities, including tryouts and regular season and post-season practices and competitions may occur during the appropriate in-season period as defined in the current VHSL athletic calendar.  While certain sports have unique considerations, all in-season athletic activities will be held in accordance with the following parameters:
  • Any individual with symptoms associated with COVID-19 should not participate in a workout. Please stay home.
  • Physical distancing to the extent possible is to be maintained when not actively participating in sport-related activities.
  • All students and coaches must wear a mask in the following situations:
    • During off-campus activities where masks are required by the venue (ex: field trip)
  • All participants must bring at least 32 ounces of water in a personal water bottle to all practices and competitions.
  • Information on sport-specific mitigation protocols is available from the school’s Director of Student Activities (DSA).

Health and Physical Education (HPE)

  • Students must wash/sanitize hands immediately before and after class.
  • It is recommended that teachers engage students choosing to wear a mask in low intensity activity indoors in well-ventilated spaces and engage in higher intensity activity outside. 
  • Locker rooms will be available for students who choose to change clothes for physical education.  In accordance with Regulation 3210, it is recommended but not required that students change clothes for physical education. Students should wear clothing/footwear that is comfortable and safe for activity and appropriate for the weather.
  • Equipment should be sprayed or wiped down with approved cleaning products periodically during the day if possible and at least once per day.

Library Program

  • Hand sanitizer station is required at the entrance of the library.  Hand sanitizer and wipes or disinfectant should be made available to library staff for their use as needed.
  • Book Checkout
    • Students and staff are permitted to browse shelves and select books.
    • Self-checkout stations qualify as high-touch surfaces and should be cleaned according to current guidance

Science (K-12)

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as safety goggles, gloves, aprons, face masks, face shields should not be shared.  If equipment is shared, it should be cleaned between each use by the student using a 10% bleach solution.  Ethanol wipes are not permitted for this use.  It is strongly recommended that individual goggles be issued to each student. If each student has been issued their own goggles they do not need to be cleaned between each use.
  • Microscopes, Balances and other scientific equipment should be cleaned between use with ethanol wipes found on List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19). Wipe the surface until visibly wet, then allow to evaporate.
  • Students and parents must sign the FCPS safety agreement and complete the safety quiz. Digital versions are acceptable. 
  • Eating and drinking are prohibited in science classrooms.
  • For additional K- 12 Health and Safety Science Guidance teachers should refer to their mandatory compliance trainings.

Specific Instructional Program Considerations

  • Generally, all instructional programs will adhere to the guidelines communicated above. Specific guidelines are listed below. The Instructional Services Department staff will continue to develop guidelines that are relevant to various instructional programs.

World Languages

  • For staff who choose to wear a mask,  a clear mask is recommended rather than cloth face covering to support instruction.

Assessment Procedures

  • Staff employ the most current school-based health and safety procedures when delivering classroom assessments and standardized assessments.

Early Head Start, PreK

  • Universal masking for student and staff continues to apply for Head Start programs.
  • Consider wearing a gown and gloves for high risk tasks.(i.e. toileting, feeding or consoling a child).
  • Disinfectant wipes and cleaners used while students are in the classroom will be provided by the PreK and Early Head Start program.

Travel Restrictions

 

Related Forms

Health and Safety Guidance (Print Version)